Spring Cleaning Your Barn: The Jobs That Are Often Overlooked

By Emily & Sarah Harris, Sisters Horsing Around

Those of us who live in areas with cold winters look forward to warm weather, sunny days, and more riding. Now that spring is here, it is also time to do some barn cleaning. Even though spring is a great opportunity to get some much-needed deep cleaning done, there are a few jobs that are often overlooked. Some of these jobs can be tedious, others seem unimportant, but either way, they make a big difference in the long run.

Disinfect the Stalls

Thoroughly cleaning the stalls and disinfecting them is a task that is recommended and important but one that not many do. If the stall has a dirt base, then this will be more difficult, but there are ways to work around that. Make sure to empty the stall completely before starting. This includes removing horses, manure, bedding, stall mats, food, water, etc. Kentucky Equine Research suggests washing down the entire stall with a “10% bleach solution first to help remove biofilms that can protect bacteria from disinfectants,” and let it dry. If using stall mats, be sure to thoroughly clean them as well. Then spray the stall with a veterinarian-approved disinfectant and leave it to dry. Once the stall is completely dry, sprinkle the bare floor with some barn lime or a stall absorbent, put everything back in, and add bedding.

Clean the Wash Stall

The wash stall is a place that is used frequently and can easily fall into disarray. Your best bet is to completely strip the area and wash down the surfaces. Remove tripping hazards and anything that can cause entanglements. Throw away any empty bottles, broken tools, tattered sponges, and rags. Then replace all the necessary items neatly. For indoor wash stalls, if space allows, keep everything well-organized by adding a shelf or hanging basket to hold bottles and tools. For outdoor wash stalls, a good barn hack is to use milk crates to keep wash items together. The holes in the milk crates will prevent water from collecting inside.

Clean Stall Fans

Cleaning stall fans is important not only to make the barn look clean but also for safety reasons. Stall fans have become a popular tool used throughout the hot summer and early fall months. Begin by reconsidering the type of fan you are using to keep your beloved equines cool. Some fans are not well-suited for the barn because of the potential risks they pose. For example, light-duty box fans can be purchased practically everywhere, but they can be a major fire hazard in a barn due to their open motor compartment. Agricultural fans are the safest because they have a sealed motor compartment and can withstand dust, dirt, and debris. These fans will only need a quick blow with a leaf blower or air compressor to get them clean. Make sure they are unplugged before starting.

Pressure Wash the Barn

Cleaning the outside of the barn is something that is often overlooked. Using a pressure washer is a quick and efficient way to clean remove dust, dirt, mold, and mildew. Trust us, the results are quite impressive and very satisfying. After a good cleaning, the barn will have a refreshed and like-new appearance. Be sure to clean on a sunny, dry day because pressure washing will result in a lot of water outside the barn.

Managing the Manure Heap/Dump Station

Managing the manure heap is an ongoing task but turning it over at least once will help in composting. If turning it is not an option, cover it with a tarp to speed up the process. The composted manure can be used to fertilize a garden or help with landscaping plants on the property.

Recharge/Replace Fire Extinguisher

Recharging or replacing fire extinguishers is something that should be done regularly. Check each gauge to see what is needed. If the needle is on red, recharge it or replace it right away. If a fire and safety equipment company is not easily accessible, it may be cheaper to replace the fire extinguisher than to recharge it.

Check Gates

This task should never be neglected. A gate that is in good repair not only looks nice, but functions much better than a gate in poor condition. Remember that gates help to keep horses contained and safe, while providing us with access to them. Since many clever equines learn how to manipulate gates as an escape route, make sure that they are all in good condition. Check paddock gates to make sure they do not drag on the ground, tighten up any loose nuts or bolts, fix or replace latches, add a wheel for easier opening, and touch up with paint wherever needed.

Another task to add to your spring-cleaning list is oiling the hinges. Nobody likes creaking hinges and poorly moving doors, so don’t forget to lubricate the hinges to keep the doors and gates working smoothly.

Replace Equine Activity Signs 

Making sure the Equine Activity signs are always visible and easy to read may not seem like that big of a deal but don’t neglect this task. If the sign is dirty, clean it up. If it is broken or missing a piece, replace it. Add extra signs in various places and at multiple entrances to the barn to ensure that people are well informed about equine liability laws and what their responsibilities are as a participant.

It is very easy to get so lost in cleaning up that some jobs will completely fall of your to-do list in the usual scramble to get things done. We hope this list will help tackle those jobs that often escape our minds to do. After completing these tasks, you will be ready to take on the rest of the year with a fresh clean start. Happy cleaning!

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